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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

A Productivity Junkie’s Guide to Overcoming Lack of Time

A Productivity Junkie’s Guide to Overcoming Lack of Time

There are days when it seems like there weren’t 24 hours in the day. It’s like the hours are disappearing or the clocks are running faster. Sorry to break it to you, but none of this is happening. The lack of time that you’re experiencing is just an illusion.

Your concern about not having enough time in the 24 hours in a day is not invalid. You’re not alone. However, the responsibility for fixing this issue is on your shoulders.

What you need to do is learn to manage what you’ve been given. Of course, no one can add an extra hour to the day. But what you can do is use every minute to your benefit.

If you struggle in dealing with a lack of time, you’ve come to the right place!

Why Do You Feel Like Having a Lack of Time?

Lack of time is experienced when certain bad habits take over your routine. These habits are unintentional, and you may not even realize that they are connected to your lack of productivity.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of these habits that are the most common among people who tend to complain of a lack of time. Once you’re aware of these causes, you can work to eliminate the problem from its roots.

1. Lack of Sleep or Oversleeping

You know how when your smart devices aren’t working, so you restart them and they start to work fine? Well, the human equivalent of that is sleeping.

Sleeping allows your body and mind to refresh. It gives you back all the drained energy and provides a fresh start for the new day. However, it needs to be done right. What this means is that you should sleep just the right amount. Six to eight hours of sleep is the ideal range for adults.

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Lack of sleep leads to a lack of productivity. Similarly, oversleeping will keep you lazy throughout the day. Adopt healthy sleeping habits.

More importantly, you should sleep comfortably. Have a nice, relaxing bed where you can sleep in a comfortable posture. Try to keep the temperature of the room optimal so that you’re not disturbed through the night. If you find sunlight disturbing, use an eye mask while sleeping. If you have noisy neighbors, use earplugs. Do all that you can to give yourself the best night’s sleep every night.

2. Multitasking

This might be a surprise for a lot of you. Multitasking is not a way to be efficient or productive. In fact, it is the polar opposite. Your brain can focus on only one thing at a time.[1] If you force it to focus on more, it fails to perform well in either task.

It is proven that multitasking slows down your brain performance. Your brain is unable to focus on either of the tasks that you’re multitasking. So, you end up spending more time completing them, and the results aren’t your best performance either.

Tackling two different tasks, even if they’re closely related, messes up with your mind. The ideas and requirements for both the tasks get mixed up. You risk your performance, quality of work, and end up wasting your precious time too. All in all, multitasking is not worth the risk at all.

3. Working Non-Stop

What’s the best way to do more in less time? Most would say working non-stop in one go shall do the trick. Well, the truth is, if you go on and work continuously, you’re only wasting your time. Your productivity and motivation are affected due to the constant strain on your mind.

This way, you’re not utilizing time to its maximum because your brain slows down and you need more time to finish tasks that would otherwise require lesser time.

A better approach is to work with breaks. You shouldn’t feel guilty about these breaks in your workday. Instead, look at these time slots as a source of refreshing your brain. A 5-minute break every couple of hours is just enough to recharge your energy levels and bring that the motivation you need to quickly finish off your work.

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4. Distractions

Working in an environment full of distractions is one of the biggest reasons that gives you a sense of a lack of time. You end up staring out your window, looking for your favorite pen, or doing something completely pointless instead of spending time finishing what you’re supposed to.

The best way to minimize your lack of time is to set up a productive workspace. If you’re working from home, designate a specific space for your work where you don’t sleep or relax. This space should only be for work.

If you’re in an office, have all your essentials within reach. A water bottle, a snack, stationery, notes, chargers, devices that you need, and everything else that you could possibly need during work should be near your workspace. This will keep you from wasting time or breaking your workflow.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Day

On top of getting rid of the aforementioned causes, you can also add some more healthy practices to your routine to get the most out of the day. These tips will eradicate the lack of time that you’re facing otherwise.

1. Have an Organized Plan

Starting the day with a plan is one great tip to avoid a lack of time. A well-planned to-do list is one of the secrets of the most successful people in the world.

If you can put all your tasks of the day and week in a calculated plan, you will end up utilizing your time way more effectively. You can use some very simple yet fool-proof strategies to devise a to-do list that will work wonders for you.

A plan or to-do list works like your assistant. It reminds you exactly what needs to be done, when your work is due, how long each task should take, and where you can adjust urgent or unexpected work.

2. Prioritize

Prioritization is something you should adopt even if you don’t experience the illusion of a lack of time. If you do have a lack of time, you shouldn’t skip it at all! This is the simple technique of what’s most important on top.

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For example, start your day with the task that you know needs to be to be finished by the end of the day. The ones that will either take less time or aren’t due right away can be pushed to later days.

Prioritizing also needs to be included in other parts of your life. So, prioritize your work and personal life to maintain a balance. This makes your overall life convenient and easier to manage.

Learn more about prioritization: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

3. Avoid Procrastination

You may think you’re not a procrastinator. But if you think there’s a lack of time, then procrastination is a contributing habit.

Maybe not consciously, but you push your tasks to the last minute. You fail to stay attentive, which is why you have to spend more time on minor jobs too. Focus is hard to gain but easy to lose.

All these are signs of procrastination. If you want to eradicate the lack of time from your life, you have to get rid of procrastination as well. Luckily, you can find a lot of easy tips and strategies online to do so.

4. Improve Time Management

It all comes down to time management. This skill is the magic wand that helps you use every hour of the day. It may sound pretty simple. You do use all the hours in the day already. However, if you sit down and calculate how much time you’ve actually used in the day, you’ll realize that you waste more than half of your time.

Time-management is what keeps you from wasting this uncalculated time. It is the skill that gives you the power to be productive through every minute. Moreover, if you can learn to manage your time, you’ll automatically avoid procrastination, too.[2]

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With this skill alone, you’ll notice a huge difference in terms of the lack of time that you were experiencing beforehand.

Bottom Line

In the end, one thing is for sure: there is no such thing as a lack of time. You’re the one who either puts the time to use or lets it go to waste.

If you can keep yourself from wasting the defined hours of the day in the wrong areas and utilize them efficiently, you’ll have plenty of time to manage all that you need to.

The tips that you’ve learned today are priceless. In a world like this, time is money. With the knowledge that you’ve gained, you’re on your way to endless wealth and productivity!

So, start using these tips to improve your life by utilizing every second of the day. Get on with this new lifestyle to conquer anything and everything in this world!

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Featured photo credit: Andy Beales via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

    More Productivity Tips

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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